The Biggest Team in London
January 2012 was the busiest month ever at the Food Bank, providing food packages to more than 3,600 families during the month.
February continues to be just as busy, with almost 1,000 families coming to us for food during the previous week.
The ability to provide that many hampers to that many families requires a huge effort. The 5 staff in the Food Bank cannot do that by themselves. The donations have to be picked up from grocery stores throughout London. Those donations are unloaded from the vehicles and are sorted into 20 plus categories. Once sorted, the food is boxed according to category and moved into our working supply. The food packages are assembled from those categories, by filling a bag or box with items on a shopping list. Each family size receives different amounts of the various categories.
All of that takes place in our warehouse area. The work continues in the client service area.
The clients are received by our reception person and then directed to an interview room to record their visit for the month. The food packages are brought out from our storage area and given to the clients after the family information has been verified and recorded.
To pick up the donations, sort the donations, box the donations, move the donations, distribute the donations into the various sizes of food packages, bring the food packages to the clients, receive and direct the clients to the interview room, and record the client information requires a huge amount of work. All of that cannot be accomplished by just 5 staff when so many are coming to us for assistance.
The staff must work as a team everyday, adapting to different tasks many times during the day. Each staff member has to be able to jump into 5 or more different roles at various times throughout the day, and do so at a moment’s notice. Well, most of the paid staff do so. On top of that, with so many different individuals and groups coming one time to volunteer, the staff have to train and supervise those volunteers.
From the retirees to the school classes to the organizations to the individuals who donate their time, both in the warehouse area and in the client service area, our ability to provide those emergency food packages is accomplished. About 80 individuals donate their time once or twice a week, every week throughout the year to provide continuity of service in each of the main tasks. From Hugh and Jim and Walter, the retired teachers, to Ed the Financial Planner, to Kevin the business owner, to Al the retired electrician, to Hillary the aspiring personal trainer, to so many others, our regular volunteers come from many different backgrounds and income levels. That so many have stepped up to help their fellow citizens in their time of need is both amazing and wonderful.
The staff work alongside the volunteers to provide food packages. From driving vehicles, to unloading vehicles, to sorting food, to packing and putting away boxes, to making food packages, to receiving and registering clients, the staff have to be versatile and work hard every day. Without the 200 or more individuals who donate their time and effort alongside the staff every week, and up to 800 different volunteers each month, those families in need would not be fed.
And, all of this is overseen by a Board of Directors, who are all volunteers themselves.
All of the staff and all of those hundreds of volunteers together comprise a big team, every day and every month, in order to make the Food Bank operate so that Londoners in need can receive some food assistance.
To have up to 800 individuals on a team, and to have so many new groups or individuals volunteer each month, expands that team size into the thousands over a full year. That hundreds and thousands of Londoners come together to help fellow Londoners is incredible.
That is one big team.
Thinking about the size of that team, though, we need to realize that it is even bigger than the numbers mentioned above.
From the firefighters who accept food donations at the fire stations on our behalf, to the employees of companies who run food drives, to the schools who run food drives, to the individuals who donate food at our donation boxes in many London grocery stores, to the citizens and companies in London who donate the money that keeps us operating, there are many more thousands of Londoners who make the London Food Bank possible.
Which, when you think about it, turns tens of thousands of Londoners into a team.
THAT is one big team.
Which means that the biggest team is not in London. It means the biggest team IS London.
Thanks, team. You are amazing.
Finance & Technology Coordinator